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Editorial: Thanks long overdue

Some World War II veterans returning from a free Honor Flight trip to Washington, D.C., say they’ve been most bowled over by the cheering crowds they met along the way. Half a century after they returned from war, they say this is the first time they have been publicly thanked for their service.
It’s about time.
The nation was far from ungrateful for what these service men and women accomplished in the war. The celebrations that followed the end of the war spoke volumes. But as people were discharged one by one and returned home, they probably did not get a hero’s welcome. They went back to work, like the rest of the country.
That’s why the Flight of Honor program is so richly appropriate. Rotary clubs in this area have raised funds to send hundreds of veterans to Washington to see the World War II Memorial ó a memorial that itself was overdue when it was erected just a few years ago. Along the way, volunteers and strangers step forward to thank the veterans for their service to the country.
Former Sen. Elizabeth Dole gave the program a boost last week by sponsoring a flight in memory of her brother, John Hanford. It was a touching tribute to her big brother and others in his generation.
The participating veterans enjoyed free flights, free food and a chance to see national memorials. But the most important part of the day was the message ó thank you. Their service to the country has not been forgotten. That’s priceless.

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